Luzzi, Martino win Valley’s Fastest series at Giants Despair

By Robert Miner - For
Luzzi -

LAUREL RUN — Sean Luzzi was the heavy favorite going into the third and final race of the Valley’s Fastest Man series, the Giants Despair Challenge, on Aug. 22.

And he delivered.

Luzzi, 21, of Bethpage, N.Y., finished the 1-mile uphill trek in 7 minutes, 3 seconds. It was his first time running in the series. Luzzi had scored wins in the first two 1-milers of the series — on the track at Misericordia and on the paved loop at Church Street Park in Kingston.

“It went good — better than I expected it would,” Luzzi said. “I started out carefully. And I think that proved beneficial for me in the end because as you approach the finish line at the top it really gets tough. It was grueling. But it was a lot of fun.”

Matt Byrne, 43, of Scranton, finished second, 24 seconds behind Luzzi. Byrne won top male masters (40 and over) honors. Kyle Suponcic, 28, of Pringle, finished third in 7:42. Suponcic finished second in the series. John Martino, 34, of Dallas, finished fourth in 8:18. That was good enough to earn him third place in the series.

Runners must compete in all three 1-milers to earn series honors.

Caitlin Gaughan, 32, of Dalton, won top female honors in the hill race, finishing sixth overall in 8:49. And Melissa Delfino, 49, also from Dalton, won top female masters honors in 11:22.

Martino’s wife, Marina, finished 12th overall in 9:23. It was the sixth year in a row that she ran away with Valley’s Fastest Woman honors.

But it was different this year than in the past, when she was running under her maiden name, Orrson, and won all 15 races over five years in wire-to-wire fashion.

This year she finished second to Clare Schoen, a 21-year-old from Scranton, in the first race at Misericordia. And she was the second women’s finisher last night at Giants Despair. But Schoen and Gaughan didn’t compete in all three races.

So Martino racked up her sixth straight series win.

“The older I get — the older I feel,” she said. “I feel, however, that I’ve accomplished quite a feat — winning six-in-a-row.”

And this year she’s been running with a hip injury and a knee problem.

Then Martino dropped the bomb.

“Will you please mention that I’m pregnant (16 weeks actually), so that people will stop asking me why I’m running so slowly,” she said.

Bree Riley, 25, of Scranton, finished second in the series among the women. And Traci Strungis finished third and also took top female masters honors.

Jon Valentine, 40, of Forty Fort, won the male masters series.


Giants Despair hill has a 22 percent upgrade over at least one-third of the course. The infamous Alpse d’ Heuz — the mountain pasture in the central Alps which is part of the world famous Tour de France bike race — features about a 13-15 percent upgrade.

Breaker Brewing Company Giants Despair Challenge (final 1-miler in the Valley’s Fastest series) results

Top finishers

Breaker Brewing Company Giants Despair Challenge (final race in Valley’s Fastest Man/Woman Series) results

Top 12 finishers

Sean Luzzi, 21, Bethpage, Long Island, NY, 7:03

Matt Byrne, 43, Scranton, 7:27

Kyle Suponcic, 28, Pringle, 7:42

John Martino, 34, Dallas, 8:18

Jacob Tazik, 29, Scranton, 8:44

Caitlin Gaugham, 32, Dalton, 8:49

Jason Hull, 26, Kingston, 9:04

Brandon Hampton, 25, Exeter, 9:05

Jerry Stewart, 46, Lehigh Valley, 9:06

Kyle Franceski, 31, Dalton, 9:06

Bob Urban, 45, Wyoming, 9:16

Marina Martino, 27, Dallas, 9:23

Male masters (40 & over) winner: Byrne

Female masters winner: Melissa Delfino, 49, Dalton, 11:22.

Field: 71. Timing and results: Susquehanna River Runners Club. Registration: Jen Heck and Mike Kinney. Race director: Chris Wadas.

Valley’s Fastest Man/Woman Series

Final Results

Race No. 1. 1-Mile Run on the track at Misericordia University

Race No. 2. 1-Mile Run on Paved Loop, Kingston

Race No. 3. Giants Despair Challenge

Fastest Man Series winners

Sean Luzzi, 21, Bethpage, Long Island, NY, 4:39, 4:34, 7:03

Kyle Suponcic, 27, Pringle, 4:58, 4:51, 7:42

John Martino, 34, Dallas, 5:16, 5:05, 8:18

Masters (40 & over) winner: Jon Valentine, 40, Forty Fort, 6:04, 5:53, 11:54

Fastest Woman Series winners

Marina Martino, 27, Dallas, 5:43, 5:41, 9:23

Bree Riley, 25, Scranton, 6:19, 6:39, 11:22

Traci Strungis, 49, Mountain Top, 7:49, 7:36, 12:53

Masters winner: Strungis


Saturday, Sept 1.: Wyoming Valley Striders 44th annual Cliff Robbins Sr. Memorial High School Invitational Cross Country Races at Letterkenny Fields, just off 42nd St., Dallas Twp. at 10 a.m. Info: Don Gross, 570-239-5792 or Karen Moskel, 570-406-4029.

Monday, Sept. 3 (Labor Day): Candlehouse Hope Teen Challenge 5K Run and 1.1 Mile Fun Walk at Kirby Park at 9 a.m. Info: Sally Kinney, 570-592-3725.

Saturday, Sept. 15: Scranton Race for the Cure, starting one block over from Courthouse Square on Washington Ave. and finishing at Courthuse Square at Adams Ave. Info: 570-969-6072.


By Robert Miner